The career of Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) was contingent to a significant degree upon the political situation in his country. After preliminary studies in piano and composition he was prevented from pursing further study in Paris on account of World War II. But the end of the war did not improve his situation greatly. Indeed, he found that his Symphony No 1 was ‘unacceptable’ in communist Poland. A thaw in the political climate in the mid-1950s brought some relief. It gave him the freedom, for example, to reveal some of the musical innovations that he had been working on quietly behind the scenes (including 12-note pitch organisation and chance procedures) and he was even allowed to travel to the United Kingdom and the USA. Commissions from front-rank performers and organisations followed. Peter Pears commissioned the Paroles tissées (1965), the Cello Concerto (1970) was written for Mstislav Rostropovich and the Symphony No 3 (1983) was written for the Chicago Symphony. At the time of his death he was working on a violin concerto for Anne-Sophie Mutter, for whom he had already composed Chain II for violin and orchestra.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra